V.League preview: Uncompromising battle

Thursday, 2019-06-13 12:47:48
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Ho Chi Minh City have been crowned the first-leg champions with one game in hand.
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NDO – Matchday 13 will be an uncompromising battle between teams as it marks the conclusion of the 2019 V.League first leg. With Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi FC already guaranteed the top-two places, up to seven other teams, equivalent to half of the participants, still stand the chance to settle for third position in the table after this weekend.

Quang Nam FC will host Becamex Binh Duong today (June 13) in a clash the result of which is difficult to be anticipate. A resounding 3-0 victory against Hai Phong in the penultimate round (after a five-game winless run) seems to signal the return of the 2017 champions to the title race under the management of newly appointed Vu Hong Viet. Of course, it is impossible to make accurate assessments after just one game, but at least it offers a foundation for Quang Nam fans to trust more in their favourite team. On the opposite side, the absence of pillars Ho Tan Tai and Le Tan Tai could be seen as a disadvantage, forecasting a tough trip for Becamex Binh Duong.

Reigning champions Hanoi FC are looking forward to avenging their 2-5 away defeat against Saigon FC a year ago when taking on the southern guests this evening. Fourth-placed Saigon have been performing poorly while playing away this season, losing four of their five last trips. Meanwhile, Hanoi FC have turned Hang Day Stadium into a real fortress with 13 wins after 14 home matches (scoring at least two goals in 12 of the 14 games). However, many of Chu Dinh Nghiem’s key players were fatigued after returning from the 2019 King’s Cup with the national team, which will allow Saigon FC to look towards a positive result against the title holders.

The clash between Nam Dinh FC and SHB Da Nang will see former star forwards of Vietnam’s national team, Nguyen Van Dung and Le Huynh Duc, confronting as managers. The guests are considered on the upper hand, but with the home-field advantage, strong support by local fans, and confidence boosted by victories over giants HCM City and Hanoi FC, Nam Dinh FC have the foundation to eye the full three points against the Da Nang side, who have yet to secure away wins this season.

HCM City, who have already been crowned the first-leg champions with one game in hand, will play host to Thanh Hoa FC in one of the most anticipated matches. Under the management of Chung Hae-seong, HCM City are making solid steps towards their first V.League glory in 17 years. However, the guests Thanh Hoa have also rediscovered their form with a seven-game unbeaten run to not only escape the risk of relegation but also make their foothold in the top half of the table.

Sanna Khanh Hoa BVN will meet newly promoted Viettel in a home clash this Sunday, which will be the last chance for the hosts to break out of bottom place before the end of the first leg. The Khanh Hoa side could only look to their home-field advantage and fighting spirit to fulfill their three-point ambition. Meanwhile, Viettel are expected to welcome back veteran midfielder Trong Hoang, who performed impressively at the recent King’s Cup in Thailand. The return of Hoang is hoped to increase both the attacking and defensive power for the V.League newbies, in the context that they have been displaying an unstable form so far this season, despite possessing a lineup of quality players such as Que Ngoc Hai, Bui Tien Dung, Nguyen Trong Dai and Gustavo.

Third-placed Quang Ninh Coal are on the high verge of defending their position into the second leg when taking on out-of-form Hai Phong FC, who have run five games without a win, including consecutive defeats in the last two matches.

VAN TOAN